I wrote a recent post about the key word “lovingkindness” which is found over and over in the New American Standard Bible. (If you want to read it, see He is Full of Lovingkindness.) I suggested in that post that you spend some time and read the verses in the Old Testament with the word “lovingkindness” in them and I had a link to those verses.
These verses tell you God is tender-hearted, loving, merciful and compassionate. God loves kindly.
I hope you noticed something else in these verses. There is another key concept that we need to get down. Yes, God loves everyone. But according to these verses He shows lovingkindness to certain people.
Let’s look at just a few of the many verses with “lovingkindness” in them. I made the words I wanted you to notice bold:
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Deuteronomy 7:12 “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.
1 Kings 8:23 He said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart,
Psalm 32:10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Psalm 36:10 O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
There are dozens more verses like this. But you get the gist of who God extends His lovingkindness to: to those who love Him and keep His commandments/ people who listen to these judgments and keep and do them/ His servants who walk before Him with all their heart/ people who trust in the LORD/ those who know Him and are upright in heart/ those who fear Him.
And this leads us to a fundamental phrase found in the Bible. “The fear of God”
This phrase “the fear of God” or “fear God” or “fear of the LORD” is found throughout the Bible. Did you know? The concept of the fear of God is mentioned close to two hundred times in the Bible! When something is mentioned that much, it is a key word. Well, in this case a key phrase.
Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
Psalm 111:9-10 He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
Psalm 128:1 How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways.
Psalm 147:11 The LORD favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness.
Proverbs 19:23 Fear of the LORD leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.
Luke 1:50 And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.
Don’t let the idea of fearing God turn you off or scare you.
Fear = revere
Fear of God = A profound reverence/ a reverent awe for God
“That fear is not slavish dread but rather contains an element of recognition of God’s glory and majesty along with trust.”
(Source: LifeChange Series – Joshua, copyright 1988 by The Navigators, page 52)
Fearing God means we realize He is a holy God.
And would you want any other kind of God?
I took a class on the “Fear of God” taught by a woman who has her doctorate and is a professor at a seminary near where I live. We spent weeks on this concept reading about the sovereignty and holiness of God. Taking this Fear of God class made me feel a little down. I began to feel like a slug. Lower than a slug. I am a wretched sinful person. He is an almighty God.
I learned a valuable lesson from taking this class. Balance.
Too often everyone seems so focused on God is loving and “God loves you.” He is and He does. I’m not denying that in any way, shape or form. Yet these same people who talk about God being loving often seem oblivious to their sinful nature.
In this “fear of God” class I tipped the scales to the other end and was so focused on His holiness that I seemed to forgot how very much He loves me and He is my Abba, my Father.
Yes He loves us and He treats those who love Him and obey Him (in a covenant relationship with Him) with lovingkindness. But we should always be mindful of Who He is. It is by His grace we even take our next breath. It is by His grace we are forgiven of our countless sins. It is by His grace we are saved.
Don’t think you can accept His grace and then act however you please. That's called cheap grace.
Don’t forget how very much He loves you and wants to protect you and give you what is best.
Read the Bible with balance. God is both holy and loving.
God treats those who fear Him with lovingkindness.